Friday, June 21, 2024


“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

— William Wilberforce


SIRVA: A Risk With Every Vaccine

SIRVA is the underreported, painful side effect of vaccinations that you’ve never heard of.  Learn about the symptoms and how you can avoid it.

Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) occurs when a vaccine, any vaccine, is injected improperly, causing physical and functional damage to the affected arm and shoulder. The injury occurs when a vaccine is mistakenly injected into the shoulder joint or bursa, a fluid filled sac that keeps the shoulder lubricated and moving smoothly.

Arm injections are aimed at the deltoid muscle, but in the case of SIRVA, are placed too high or too deep into the upper arm, setting up an inflammatory reaction that affects the local tendons, ligaments, nerves and/or bursa. The result is a cluster of symptoms that can include prolonged shoulder pain, limited range of motion, and weakness. The injury, which health professionals have tended to dismiss, is now recognized by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) and the number of claims have risen steadily.

SIRVA is underreported in the medical literature and many, if not most, health care providers have never heard of it. I am a physician who in the past, both received and administered vaccines, and I first learned of SIRVA when I read about it on a wellness blog. At that point, I had seen a number of doctors for shoulder and arm pain so incapacitating that it not only interfered with my daily routine, it also prevented me from falling and staying asleep. I am a strongly left-hand dominant, not the least bit ambidextrous, so this problem affected most aspects of my daily living.

The blog told a story of a woman who had suffered a SIRVA injury, and I felt like I was reading my own story. A light went off and suddenly everything made sense. I realized I’d had a vaccine injury I’d never heard of, and apparently, neither had any of my doctors.

This is my history: In 2009, while in the driver’s seat of my car, stopped at a red light, I reached my right arm straight back to grab something, without turning my body. I heard a distinct ripping sound, which turned out to be my rotator cuff rupturing. Six years later, in 2015, the morning after I was given a pneumonia vaccine in my left arm, I had an uncanny experience: I awoke with the same pain I had with my previous rotator injury. I had pain at rest and pain with attempted movement of the arm. The problem was, in the case of my right arm, I knew exactly when and why it had happened.

No matter how hard I wracked my brain, I couldn’t think of anything that had occurred that could be remotely responsible for my symptoms that morning. I immediately phoned my doctor and scheduled her first available appointment. My primary doctor and my orthopedist, who concluded I had a left rotator injury, never asked about my vaccination history, which I never thought to share.

The first published report of SIRVA in 2007 described the injury resulting from influenza and pneumonia vaccinations. Since then, we learned the most common cause of SIRVA is the seasonal flu shot, representing about 70% of cases, likely because it’s the most commonly administered vaccine. The second most common cause of SIRVA is the tetanus shot. Vaccines are designed to provoke an immune response, which in the case of SIRVA, provoke it in the wrong place.

These are the symptoms of SIRVA:

  • Sudden onset of acute shoulder pain shortly after vaccination. Symptoms develop in 75% of people within 24 hours of vaccination, in 93% within 48 hours. The pain is typically dull and achy at rest, made worse by trying to use the arm for simple tasks such as lifting a cup of coffee, hanging a coat in the closet, brushing hair, and driving.
  • Shoulder pain becomes persistent and chronic, often severe.
  • Limited range of motion of the shoulder joint, which reduces function of arm and shoulder.
  • Arm weakness.
  • Arm and shoulder stiffness.
  • Less common:tendonitis
    • rotator cuff tears
    • frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
      • impingement syndrome
    • brachial nerve damage, brachial neuritis
    • bone erosion

Sleep disturbance both at rest and movement is directly related to the degree of pain and the tendency to immobilize the arm to prevent the pain caused by movement. Treatment for SIRVA begins with pain medication, anti-inflammatory agents and physical therapy. Steroid shots are a second line therapy and surgery is a treatment of last resort. Treatment is generally prolonged, and is not effective in all cases.

To qualify as a SIRVA injury, there must be no history of shoulder problems prior to vaccination and the causative vaccine has to be subject to a federal excise tax and recommended by the CDC for adults as well as children. Adult-only vaccines such as shingles and Pneumovax-23 not covered by the vaccine compensation program, which leaves a malpractice action an option for compensation.

In 2015, the Advisory Commission of Childhood Vaccines decided against recommending changing the law to allow adult-only vaccines to be heard in vaccine court. That same year, the government proposed adding SIRVA to the federally operated “Vaccine Injury Table,” a list of recognized vaccine complications that qualify for compensation through the vaccine court. As of 2016, the federally approved schedule for adult vaccination includes 61 doses of 12 vaccines, which are meant to follow the 69 doses of 16 vaccines recommended in childhood through the age of 18. Since 2011, over 100 SIRVA victims have been paid about $20 million dollars, with at least one, a nurse, over one million. More cases pending and more are likely as awareness rises.

  • The CDC current injection guidelines have been criticized for being one-size-fits-all, listing a one inch long needle as appropriate for use in most patients, except newborns and those weighing over 200 pounds. To avoid over-penetration of the deltoid muscle, researchers suggest a weight-based vaccination technique using needle lengths as short as one half inch for women weighing under 150 pounds. Combining the weight-based vaccination method with purposeful avoidance of the upper third of the arm for injection could potentially eliminate all or nearly all SIRVA injuries.
  • Avoiding vaccination is the only foolproof method of preventing SIRVA. For those who choose to be vaccinated, these steps can reduce the chance of injury:
  • Make sure the health care provider giving the injection is aware of SIRVA it by choosing a needle whose length is appropriate for your weight, and properly injecting the vaccine in the lower two thirds of the deltoid muscle.
  • Remove your shirt or wear one that you can easily pull up over your shoulder. Do not wear a shirt that you pull down, because that exposes your upper shoulder.
  • Take only one vaccine per visit.

I was given Pneumovax-23, so could not apply to the vaccine court for compensation even though my MRI shows tendinopathy, tendon tears and fraying, synovitis, soft tissue swelling and adhesive capsulitis. Almost two years later, I still have pain on movement, which my orthopedist concludes is not likely to go away. I read the package insert for the vaccine, and learned it’s unadjuvanted, so my inflammation was and is caused by my reaction to the actual pneumococcal protein and/or the 0.25% phenol used as a preservative.

I also learned that approval for this vaccine was based on studies of male novice gold miners in South Africa, male and female nursing home residents in France, individuals who have sickle cell disease, absence of the spleen and other chronic conditions, and immunocompetent individuals 65 years or older. I don’t fit any of those categories, but I do qualify for inclusion in the “Post-Marketing Experience” reported as “decreased limb mobility.”

Note: This article was reprinted with permission. It was originally published at The author is a physician interested in how the synergies of evidence-based and modern peer-reviewed knowledge can offer a holistic approach to wellness. 

27 Responses

  1. In my doctoral studies in Oriental Medicine, a classmate had shots in both upper arms and wound up with frozen shoulders and still suffers from them after many years. Whether inject correctly or incorrectly doesn’t mean a thing. The arm muscles are affected and since the shoulder muscle are involved, then misery. He gets relief from Tuina (the mother of all massages) which helps him work at his acupuncturist clinic without misery.

  2. I had that vaccine injury doctors too incompetent to make a vaccine injury report making thousands of dollars in bonuses from vaccine injuries. MURDER HEALTH CARE SYSTEM . F,u, up Health care . KILLING MY FAMILY .

  3. I realize this article is written by a doctor, but my advice would be to just avoid the shots altogether. DO not fall for their bullshit agenda which tries to make people believe that they NEED those damned shots in the first place. I’ve known more adults who’ve had major problems after tetanus, flu and pneumonia shots than any other segment of our population, those being the three top offenders. I can’t even imagine giving a baby a flu shot. It’s akin to putting poison in their food, and if you think that’s not true you haven’t been doing your due diligence in researching these things.

    1. That sums it up nicely and if you insist on injecting yourself with this poison for heavens sake why in the world are you sticking your arm out at a drive through window at Walgreens.As soon as they realize some of these vaccines are not covered by VAERS they will shut down their drive though clinics.

  4. It is really shocking how barbaric medical practice still is. Even Hippocrates (of first do no harm) would be horrified. The doctors are too illiterate to write effective and eligible medical reports which the legal process usually demands for patients to get heard and compensated in the event of an injury (which is more common than is admitted) that most of these injuries go unaddressed. You’ve to ask yourself, suffering for what? so as to keep big pharma and doctors money happy? Everybody knows any time you introduce a chemical into a person (another biochemical process) it has to have an effect, the ad nauseam denials are an absurdity. Safe doesn’t mean a total absence of risk. Only vaccines are marketed and protected this way, where any mention of any risks is eschewed.

  5. Doctors to Incompetent to know what a Vaccine Injury looks like . Using Vaccine Injury as a Profit Maker .

  6. Years ago, I experienced severe shoulder/arm pain while lifting my toddler in an awkward fashion. The orthopedic doctor said my rotator cuff wasn’t torn, and the diagnosis was bursitis. A large calcium deposit in my shoulder joint was seen on x-ray. Steroid injections didn’t help. Prescribed exercises were too painful, so I didn’t do them. I used OTC pain relievers daily.
    After a month, the severe pain gradually diminished, but using that arm for routine daily tasks made it really ache the following day. It was a chronic annoyance for over two years.
    Fortunately, essiac tea, the 8-herb formula, two ounces, twice a day, cleared up my aches completely, over a couple weeks. I had been taking the tonic to help with another ailment at the time when I noticed that my arm didn’t bother me anymore. Hmm, interesting. I continued the essiac for two more weeks, and the shoulder pain hasn’t returned. I think it really helped.

  7. I had a flu shot that resulted in SIRVA, and I’m trying to learn everything I can from peoples’ experiences with recovery: how long it took and what helped. I made an anonymous survey and I’ll be looking at the data and posting about what people have found that worked. If you have SIRVA and especially if you’ve recovered from it (yay! I hope to be there someday too!), please consider sharing your story in this survey so others can learn from your experience! THANKS!

  8. Here I am reading all this because it’s been 4 days and my vaccine shot hurts like a bitch and it was placed right where my arm bends. I’ve always been an active person who does sports and runs and obstacle races and more…I’m only 28…looks like life is over for me

  9. Minor upper arm pain after 2018 flu shot. Pain increased over 6 weeks and is now severe when trying to lift any object. Have been applying heat and taking 200 mg ibuprophen only when needed. Time to see doctor.

  10. I am having the same issue as mentioned here in this post; Other than taking medicine or there any other way this can be treated; I am unable to perform basic lifting or pushing the doors with my left hand now. This is frustrating

  11. I got a pneumonia shot in the hospital, when having been on life support with pneumonia. Of everything i had done, the shot was the by far the most painful. I also got a flu shot in my other arm. It hurt so bad, i cried. And it bled bad. That was on Oct. 27th, Now its almost Feb. and i am in terrible pain. It hurts to open the car door. It was given in my upper arm. I’ve gone back to the hospital, and many Drs. None of them seem to yake me seriously. I cannot take the pain. I wake up many times during the night. I take aleve all the time! I need help!

  12. Husband played golf (walked 18 holes) won the annual championship and next day went in for annual physical feeling great. Was advised to take flu and pneumonia vaccinations. Two days later he was in bed in horrible pain. Had to use a walker to get up. Finally felt somewhat better after 2 weeks, but is still having pain in hip and groin areas. Having to take pain meds at least every other day. Doctor, of course, won’t admit the vaccines probably caused it. Some days he can barely walk from the pain. Has anyone experienced this? Trying to decide what kind of doctor to see.

  13. I was given the High Dose Flu shot in October, 2018
    Within a few hours I began having severe pain in my hip and thigh. I have been on pain meds ever since; can hardly walk the pain is so terrible. It is now February 2019.
    I will be living with this the rest of my life.

  14. Did a doctor tell you that this pain will never go away? Same thing happened to me. Got a flu shot in October 2018, still have pain in my legs. First couple months the pain moved around all the time in my legs. Now it stays in my thighs. The pain has been less severe last few weeks but my muscles look damaged. I’m seeing a doctor.

  15. I am an acupuncturist, and have treated two patients with SIRVA…I am wondering how much of the etiology is vaccination location, and how much may be a reaction to the ingredients/ preservatives.

  16. I just finished a course of antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia and a week after I was given a pneumonia shot 2 inches below the top of my shoulder, it has been five days and my entire shoulder is in pain, red and swollen as well as my left side of chest and side. I can barely use my arm I have not slept more than two hours at once since and am plagued by horrific nightmares when I do sleep ,its been five days since I have been given the shot by a I in trouble here? what should I do?

  17. I got the TDaP 7 days ago and the pain is getting worse. My shoulder feels like it’s on fire and very painful to touch it is keeping me awake. I suffer from chronic arthritis pain and have been on pain management meds for 13 years. These meds aren’t even helping. Imagine how much more it would hurt without any pain meds?? I’m REALLY worried now.

  18. I got Flublok Quadrivalent 0.5ML Intramuscular Solution on 09/27/18 & Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccine 23 valet on 10/23/18. Soon after that, My shoulder started bothering me. It became debilitating, turning into a Frozen Shoulder by Thanksgiving 2018, then I needed to start physical therapy in mid-December 2018 until early March when insurance decided I didn’t need it anymore. Could this have been caused by a flu shot?

  19. Got my flu and pneumonia shots 2 weeks ago. My arm was very sore for 2 days, but the pain in my hip – that I never had before, is Really bad. There is absolutely no other explanation except those shots.

  20. I’m a completely healthy 30 year old male that received a flu shot. This has destroyed my entire life. I can’t put my shirt on. I’ve always played sports and have been athletic. I’m filled with anger that this isn’t mentioned as a side effect. I’d rather have the flu 10x than this. I’m beyond angry at the lack of warnings

  21. Please don’t ever get a vaccine. It has changed me from a happy person to angry I’m every which way. I can’t lift my arm. I can’t play every sport I once played. This is a horrific hidden scam. My flu shot was right in my bursa.

  22. I feel for all of you…..had same experience in October 2014 when I got a “routine” flu shot in my left arm. As a nurse, I thought the student nurse had given it way too high up on my arm, but didn’t worry about it too much. I had never heard of SIRVA. After 2 weeks of severe pain I knew something was really wrong. My family doc and the orthopedic surgeon I was referred to treated me like I was crazy when I insisted the flu shot caused my sudden symptoms. Long story short – I endured 6 months of painful, useless physical therapy and cortisone injections until I finally decided I couldn’t stand it any more and opted for surgery. The rehab was long – it took 13 months to regain full mobility and to be pain free. If you’re not getting any better after 6 or more months…. plz consider surgery. It saved my life!

  23. I received a bad flu shot in 2017. The pain, inflammation began in the left shoulder and ended up with both shoulders in pain and the pain also running down each arm as well as the lower back of the neck. The FEDS do not like this since the pain did not remain local. Is there any medical evidence of bursa, fascia pain expanding through the body.

  24. I had travel vaccines on my right arm and I was in pain for 3 years.
    I was unable to lift cup of coffee , or do anything without pain.
    I think something in the vaccine didn’t agree with my body, thankfully the pain has now gone away and my arm is now back to normal again, I am guessing this because one of the travel vaccine has expired.
    I hope there is hope for others who in pain because of vaccines.

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